The 127 Auto Ultimate? Ihagee's Auto Ultrix Westentaschen 2850

Some things take work to get right, be they relationships, recipes, or simply routines.  And while instant gratification can be a wonderful thing, there comes a certain sense of satisfaction in working carefully to improve upon something imperfect to gradually improve upon it. 

But getting to that point is not always easy.  It often takes a lot of trial and error, and some careful attention to detail to get things right, or at least close enough.  

Which brings me to my latest feature...

Despite looking rather imposing in this photo, the Auto Ultrix dimensions of roughly 5"x 3" x 1.5"

It had all of the hallmarks of a perfect shooter for me.  Compact and classic in style, yet capably equipped with a Zeiss Tessar lens, this Ihagee Auto Ultrix Westentaschen 2850 (hereafter to be referred to as the "Auto Ultrix" for the sake of brevity) seemed to be my "full frame" 127 format folder that I'd hoped the Agfa Billy Zero would be.  Found through a Craigslist ad, I paid a decent amount more than my typical threshold, but figured that this treat would be worth the investment, as the price was fair.


An Instant Repeat: The Polaroid 440

When it rains, it pours.  I had not even cleaned the dust from my Polaroid Colorpack II camera before I had elected to look about to see what other models I might be able to find, stopping in one of my favorite shops in Baltimore known for carrying some affordable collectable cameras, when I spotted a folding type model among the offerings for a mere $12! I was now the owner of a second Polaroid pack film camera - a model 440! 

Plastic fantastic?  The Polaroid 440 isn't on the very top of the list of desirable Polaroid models, but finishes strong with its glass lens and adjustable aperture.

My enthusiasm for the Colorpack was still quite strong, but given that I was in the area, and knew this store was one of the best in which to find such a thing, it made complete sense to grab this while my logistics allowed, so as to give a try to a model with a touch more in the way of user features and adjustability.  Admittedly, I hadn't quite vetted the 440 in relation to other models in the pack film line up, but it looked to offer a decent bit of features.  I had no idea of its functionality, but if worse came to worse, it would make an interesting display piece.

Late to the (Polaroid) Party: The Colorpack II

I'm not necessarily known as being an "early adopter" among consumers.  I barely have 3 Blu-ray discs in my collection, don't fully know how to use my Play Station 3, and plunk away on computers made before Barack Obama took office.  I'm hardly one who is ahead of the technological curve any more.

And then there is my penchant for film cameras.  While I'm sure Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford are glad to have my film related business, I'd imagine the folks at Canon, Nikon, Sony, or Olympus might be disappointed that I'm not quite the gear head who must upgrade to the newest models of their hardware each year.

And yet, even within my odd niche, I can be well behind the curve as well.  In this case, it has led me to barely grab hold of the irons as the last train is leaving the station, and joining in the final passage of a journey that many in my hobby reflect upon with nostalgic sorrow, but for which I've been more or less blissfully unaware until just recently.

The story begins as I'm perusing some Craigslist ads only to stumble across one particularly interesting listing selling off a collection of various cameras and lenses.  The lot includes some new pickups from familiar makers like Nikon and Pentax, a few classic roll film models, and a pair of extras tossed in from a name familiar to nearly anyone who has even seen a physical photo taken in the last 50 years: Polaroid.

Ask the average non-camera collecting person about what Carl Zeiss, Voightlander, or Leica means to them and you are likely to be met with a blank stare, but chances are that same person should have a pretty decent idea about what a Polaroid entails, From its decades of innovation as a leader in the field of instant photography, the term "Polaroid" has largely come be synonymous with its genre.

At the same time, the term Polaroid has largely become synonymous with the term "Hipster," One need only review the lyrics to Demi Lovato's "Really Don't Care" to get the vibe of recent sentiment towards the caricature of those who partake in instant photography. Things certainly have changed in the decade plus where Outkast once popularized the phrase to "Shake it like a Polaroid."

So when this one camera fell into my lap with this single Craigslist transaction, I was excited, dismayed, and confused all at the same time.  You see, while I can not only find meaning to the names Carl Zeiss, Voightlander, and Leica, I also have a decent grasp of the history of these camera makers to have a basic idea of their product lines through the ages. Not so for Polaroid.

And to think that at one point, I was an enthusiastic user of one of their products: Polapan film, a really wonderful 35mm black and white slide film from the 80's and 90's that was "instantly" processed in a small crank-spun home processing unit to yield some lovely monochrome transparencies.  My enthusiasm for this product never once spilled over to me wanting to adopt any of Polaroid's "bread and butter" products in the field of instant print photography. Even getting back into the field of film photography beginning in 2014, I never once considered instant photography and what may have become of it.

The result was that the field of instant photography was one confusingly grey area for me Even if I'd stumble across an internet thread of news snippet on the field of instant photography, I never knew the breadth of what such news entailed.  One such snippet of news involved the discontinuance of Fuji Peel Apart Instant film FP-100C, and was met with significant dismay from the film photographic community.  As I'd never used such film, I had no idea of what the relevance of its discontinuance entailed.

Reading the articles about its discontinuance, and seeing its packaging as a Fuji "professional" product, my first thought was that it was used in medium and large format cameras with special "Polaroid" backs. or for older ID cameras, but not in any product that was in my typical sub-$20 price range.  Though I could feel empathy towards other film photographers losing a product, I'd never thought it would be a product that I'd have purchased.

But here I was picking up a Craigslist lot, consisting of a pair of Polaroid cameras: the "Big Swinger" and this camera: The Colorpack II.

Looking something like an oversized Instamatic, the Colorpack II is a sizable camera rife with the feel of the late 1960's and early 1970's.  The "kickstand" used for posing this camera is actually a diffuser for flash bulbs. 

While the rather awkwardly named "Big Swinger" did not use a currently available film, the Colorpack II uses the FP-100C that I'd presumed was simply a "professional" product.  Once I discovered this, I began to look forward to using the Polaroid more than the other cameras that were far more within my comfort zone.  And with this realization, my interest in cameras using this endangered film began to grow.  But more on that later.


Minolta's Metropolitan: The A5 Rangefinder

"Wow, but you're handsome."  That was my very first thought. 

As someone who owns rangefinder cameras made from the 1940's through the 1970's, I tend to be a bit dismayed to see how the outward appearance of this genre of cameras gradually grew to be a bit less attractive as the years went onward. The svelte design of a flagship camera like the 1948 Konica I had become less endearing by the time the Auto S2 was released less than two decades later. Both are excellent cameras in their own way, but the earlier camera possesses a sleek design that had been jettisoned as the camera took on a faster lens and improved functionality in the form of exposure metering. 

Looking at some of my other rangefinders of the 1960's, I'm not particularly smitten by the overall look of the Ricoh 520M CDS, Taron Marquis, or Yashica M-II.  But then I happen to acquire a little gem of a camera from the 1960's that really impresses me with its outward appearance...

Simple and elegant, the Minolta A5 puts forth an attractive and clean look. 

I call it my "Metropolitan" as the gorgeously raised "M" logo, looking more like an upside down "W," strongly reminds me of the solitary "M" logo associated with New York's Transit system during the later part of the same decade.  It's clean, simple, and even a bit elegant. It seems right at home in the decade in which it originated.  It's specifications are more or less identical to most decent Japanese rangefinders of the era, sporting an f/2.8 lens and a capable shutter that shot as fast as 1/500 of a second.  Another spare item generously granted to me for trial by Mike Eckman, the A5 impresses me with its clean look.  


Point and Shoot Pity Party Part 6: Olympus Infinity SuperZoom 300

This is Part 6 of a recurring series on basic point and shoot consumer cameras, the details of which can be found here.

If a point and shoot and an SLR had a baby, it would be a "bridge" camera.  These viewfinder based cameras hit the market in the early 1990's marketed as a more full featured alternative to a point and shoot but designed with a more novice-friendly interface than an SLR.   Ricoh, Chinon, Canon, and Olympus were some of the primary manufacturers of this genre of camera.  I knew when I started this series that I'd love to snap one of these up to try out if the price was right.  I had all but given up on finding one when this one showed up in a nearby thrift shop.  Even after getting home and finding the camera working, it was particularly fiddly about loading film, but finally acquiesced and let me run a roll of some Ferrania film through it. 

The look of the Olympus Infinity Super Zoom tries to be intimidating, but tends to come off as a bit awkward to say the least. 

Name: Olympus Infinity SuperZoom 300
Format: 35mm
Type: Autofocus "Bridge" Camera
Year: 1988
Features: Single and Continuous Advance, Multiple Exposures, Macro and Portrait Modes, Infinity Focus Mode, Exposure compensation (-1.5 to +1.5 in half steps), Spot metering, Servo Focusing for moving subjects, self-timer, forced fill flash and force flash off.
Lens: 38-105mm f/4.0-5.6, 12 elements in 11 groups
Battery: 2 x CR-123 cells.
Manual: http://www.butkus.org/chinon/olympus/olympus_infinity_superzoom_300/olympus_infinity_superzoom_300.htm 


Fun with Film: Imation Chrome 100

One of the more interesting and encouraging bits of news that emerged a couple of years ago as I was getting back into film photography was the initiation of an effort to save machinery and restart production of transparency film by Ferrania in Italy.  Though the project has been fraught with a number of unforeseen challenges, it is moving forward at a better pace now, and is showing signs of emerging at some point hopefully within the year. 

As a result of this, the "Ferrania" name carries a significantly higher profile than it did during the 1990's onward, when it was largely a "private label" film maker that produced many "store brand" films until about 2007 or so, when its production lines shut down.  In addition, Ferrania produced branded film as well, but this typically was marketed under the "Scotch" and later "Imation" lineups. I took a lot of shots in the early 1990's on a private label "Seattlechrome" brand that I suspect may well have been made by Ferrania. 

While I've managed to find a decent amount of Ferrania color negative films over the past year under various labels over the past year, the slide film product that Ferrania now seeks to replicate for its new product had been pretty elusive in searches on ebay.  I HAD been able to find a single roll of Imation Chrome 100 early last Summer that I excitedly snapped up in hopes it would give me a vague idea of how the forthcoming film will look.  

I split the roll between my Ricoh 520M CDS and the Olympus OM-2, with shots on the former taken on a Maine trip, and shots on the latter taken locally.  I anticipated there may be an extreme amount of color shifting, and some loss of speed, so I rated it around ISO 80 and hoped for the best.  The results from this 12 year old film, while not pristine, were appreciably better than I'd feared they might be.  The film had a slight amount of grain, and some color shifting towards the blue end of the spectrum, but didn't look nearly as shifted as the 2008 vintage Ektrachrome I took along to Oregon in 2015.  Here are samples of 12 year old Imation Chrome with some degree of post processing...

Loaded first into the Ricoh 520M, I had a lovely day before me to see what the Imation Chrome would do.  The color rendering is exceptionally on the cold side, but contrast and detail remain adequate. 


Franka's Tower of Portable Power: The Tower 60

It was a purchase decision that took the better part of 2 minutes.  Spotted in a nearby antique mall was what seemed to be THE perfect camera to add to my collection.  A medium format folder with a fast and rather reputable f/2.9 lens AND a rangefinder.  Priced at $40 with a 20% discount, I gleefully raced up to the front desk to ask to see this camera to check its operability.

Shutter: check.  Rangefinder: check.  Folding and unfolding: check.  There was nothing whatsoever that I could detect as being of serious issue with this camera.  It was oddly parallel to several others in my collection, but having the working rangefinder was the perfect incentive to add the Tower 60 to my camera collection.

Franka made models seem to come past me with surprising regularity.  This one was was a very pleasant surprise. 

Though sold by Sears Roebuck, the Tower 60 was a product of Franka, the very same maker who made the Solida camera that is a beloved favorite of mine.  In fact, the Tower 60 is more or less a Solida Variant with different markings.  It is for all intents and purposes identical to the Franka Solida IIIE.  Equipped with the same Schnieder Radionar 80mm f/2.9 lens as my previous Solida cameras that I loved using wide open wherever possible, I wholeheartedly welcomed the ability to add a version with a rangefinder to ensure accurate distance measurement.  I was $32 poorer, but vastly enriched culturally.  


Nikon's Perfect Vision? The N2020

Bloated, ungainly, and bulbous are all words that could be accurately used to describe Nikon's autofocus SLR cameras of the 1990's.  Despite their reputation for rugged and dependable cameras, Nikon's film SLR line up in the later days of film carried a look that was admittedly unbecoming to a number of camera fans, myself included.

But it wasn't always this way.  Nikon's very first successful autofocus SLR actually looked much more like its manual focus predecessors than the bulky AF cameras that would follow it.  In fact, the camera actually had a sister model (the N2000) that looked more or less identical to it, but lacking the autofocus feature.  The 1986 AF model, known as the F-501 in other markets, was known as the N-2020 in North America, which leads to me jest that this camera was Nikon's perfect vision of its future.

I'd rarely use the term "elegant" to describe most Nikon Autofocus SLR cameras, but I certainly can appreciate such a trait in the N2020. 

My interest in the N2020 came after reading Mike Eckman's well-penned Nikon trifecta article.  I was particularly pleased to discover that he had a spare "beater" body that he'd shell out for some surplus trade bait of my own.  I'd already had some experience with the N5005 and N60 that I'd genuinely liked, but the N2020 seemed very much like my kind of Nikon, being an autofocus camera that remained remarkably true to its manual focus roots.


From Russia with Lovely Bokeh: The Zorki 4

The camera sat on my shelf looking sort of lost among a handful of Japanese, American, and German counterparts, bedecked with its incongruous Cyrillic lettering on its face plate, and looking every bit the fish out of water.  It certainly didn't beckon to me, resulting in a feeling that was anything but love at first sight. 

I picked it up and briefly peered through the combination viewfinder and rangefinder, and my eyes literally began to hurt to try to focus on a nearby object, as the entire field of view looked both bright and fuzzy to me.  I placed it back on the shelf, a tad overwhelmed by the operational nuances of this interesting but somewhat puzzling machine, but also confused as to why its benefactor thought I would appreciate it.

So, fellas?  Heard any good state secrets lately?

The camera in question was the Russian made Zorki 4, a generous loaner from Mike Eckman, who also runs a great site featuring vintage cameras.  Though I certainly appreciated the kindness of the gesture, I had yet to grasp just what was so enthralling about this Cold War relic that emerged in 1957 from behind the Iron Curtain.


Pentaxonomy: The Pentax ZX-7

It was with mild interest as I mused back upon my photographic past to realize that prior to my "digital hiatus" beginning in 2001, the camera maker from which I had shot the most different models of film cameras was in fact... PENTAX!

Among my earlier film camera experiences was shooting staff K-1000 cameras as a photographer at my college yearbook in 1991.  Later, when I became the editor of this yearbook, and enabled with some funds to replace the "K-Grands," I selected the P-30T model for offering an affordable choice with auto-exposure.  Years later, when I was a Bus Operator, I snapped up an IQ-Zoom 80 QD to carry with me as a means to occasionally document (on slide film!) the buses, routes, and settings I had the privilege of driving.

When I got back into film shooting however, Pentax had been conspicuously absent my "wants list." In each of my earlier examples of using a Pentax, the camera model was selected more for a pragmatic aspect of cost benefit in a pricey camera market than it was selected for the shooting experience.  The K-1000 simply was there already, and I didn't recall liking it much.  The P-30T performed fine, but always felt a bit cheap.  The IQ-Zoom was actually rather likable, and produced some decent results in favorable conditions, but seemed easily thrown by any varied lighting situation. Simply put, despite my interest in photography and sentimental ways, I was at a loss to conjure up nostalgia for shooting a Pentax.

You would at least think that given my exposure (pun intended) to the brand throughout the 1990's, I would at least be pretty well versed in "Pentaxonomy" but even this fails to ring true. Despite being a Popular Photography subscriber for most of the 1990's, I paid little in the way of attention to the Pentax brand, though much of this is due to the maker rarely getting much in the way of prominent attention at the time.  While Canon, Nikon, and Minolta stole the show with their many new releases, Pentax's line-up generally sat humbly in the backdrop.  There were some occasional feature stories on some of their more innovative releases, but most of the buzz tended to focus on the industry's "Big Three."

Or at least that's how I remembered it.  But then as I was digging through some online copies of Popular Photography from 1999, I spotted an advertisement that suddenly spurred a memory for me:

Suddenly, I could remember being the twenty-something "Quirky Geeky Guy with a Camera Magazine" seeing this very ad back when it first was featured.  I was totally enchanted by the idea of the light up dial featured on the ZX-7 at the time, but had not long beforehand picked up a Canon EOS Elan II-e, so this Pentax and its novel arrangement showed up just a hair too late for me to consider at the time.

But... here I was remembering this in a new era where the film cameras that cost several hundred dollars a decade and change ago could now be had for barely more than lunch money.  I stole off to ebay, found a nice looking ZX-7 for under $20 and pulled the trigger with little hesitation.

The Pentax ZX-7 has a fairly basic look that is hardly intimidating to the amateur photographer.

Admittedly, I was making a buying choice based on little more than a novelty feature, but it wasn't a huge investment.  Looking through what I could discover in documentation seemed to support that this Pentax could provide a new and welcome shooting experience for a person like myself who had been largely used to a much more manual experience.  I certainly looked forward to giving it a try.


Fun with Film: Fujicolor Reala 100

It would have done me a lot of good to simply listen and pay attention years ago.  A lot of good.

Before taking a break from shooting film, I predominantly shot slide film.  I really had a distaste for color negative film, finding the color palette of negative films to be lacking compared to the bold and vibrant colors of transparency film.  There were a few exceptions, such as the vivid Agfa Ultra 50 film, that were known departures from this rule  And while there were general purpose transparency films that had rich and vivid color renditions, there seemed no such thing on the print side of the house.

I recall hearing a decent amount of love for Fuji Reala 100 in particular as a print film with a very likelike vividness rendered in rich hues, but thought this simply meant it rendered accurate skin tones for portraiture, and feeling nothing in the way of loss that I'd neglected to give "yet another print film" at least one try.  

Upon ordering the last couple rolls of Agfa Ultra 50 from a favorite Etsy seller, I was greeted with a happy little bonus of a pair of rolls of Fuji Reala 100 tossed into the package. Thankful to have this bonus, but still not knowing much about the film, I tossed it in with the rest of my expired film and elected to just run the first roll through the Vivitar 5500PZ. This choice was not as much to test the film but to have some cheap color results to show from this camera.

I took the camera along with me on a few Spring outings and before long, I'd wrapped up this roll of film handily, dropping it into one of my home-developed batches of color film to await some results to scan and post, all the while expecting nothing terribly special in the way of results from this film that had been discontinued about a decade ago.  

But that would quickly change.  As the scans began to complete, I realized just what a phenomenal film this is.  Even a poorly done shot on Fuji Reala can look remarkably impressive when it contains a nice pop of color to draw in the eye.  With each additional scan, I realized that I really should have been more open minded regarding this film during the days when it was being made, as I'd almost instantly come to be remiss at its discontinuance. 

So without further delay, have a look at the Fuji film known as Reala, and join me in my sorrowful realization that this is yet one more amazing film that is all but unavailable today.  

It is a major irritation when your camera gives you an affirmative green light that your subject is in focus when it really is not.  Still, the color rendition of this film is nothing short of amazing, as seen here.


Trying not to GAF with the Memo EE

Ever shot a photo with one hand with the other bracing a pole?  Over a blind fence? Panning a moving subject due to a slow shutter speed? Or how about simply using a scale focus camera and no meter to shoot a roll of film?  

Sometimes one best shots are taken in situations where there may be little in the way of guidance or control.  And sometimes, photography can be at its most fun when it's not a cake walk of perfectly metered exposure and/or easy focusing.

In the Summer of last year, as my frugality was ramped up to about the same degree as my Gear Acquisition Syndrome, I stumbled across a cheap listing for a compact little rangefinder camera produced under the GAF name, and couldn't resist.  For about $14.50 total, I snapped up the GAF Memo EE rangefinder in unknown working condition and not knowing just what to expect from this model.

Admittedly, I knew I was flirting with danger with this pickup.  Unlike some compact rangefinder models of the 1960's and 1970's, the GAF does not offer a manual mode, so snapping one up in an "as-is" condition leaves one at the mercy of the longevity of the rather primitive electronics within its confines.  And neither that mercy nor any luck were on my side when the GAF arrived.  I discovered a dead meter in this budget pick up.

The particularly tiny GAF Memo EE is loosely related to the Konica C35, and also has some near-identical twins with various other nameplates. 


Super Sleeper: The Kodak Brownie Starflex

About the best barometer of a camera collector's affinity towards a particular example in his active collection would be the number of rolls of film that have passed through its chambers to produce images.  A camera that sees a single inaugural roll of film only to then sit and collect dust would certainly seem to be less favored than a model that has seen numerous rolls of film in the same amount of time.  

Given that I have a decent sized collection, it isn't too often that a particular example stays by my side for several months as a primary camera churning out roll after roll of film, so a camera that sees half a dozen rolls over the course of a year would admittedly be a well favored "high-use" camera for me.

Occasionally, I come to notice that a particular example in my collection has been called into use more than I would have guessed, seeming to indicate that I have a latent, almost subconscious liking of it that comes as a surprise to me.  I call these examples "Sleeper Cameras" as they possess some intangibles that seem to make them inexplicably endearing to me.   This is one of my very few examples of such a camera in my collection...

I'd more or less expected this little camera to be good for one roll and nothing more.  Nope!


Point and Shoot Pity Party Part 5: Pentax IQ Zoom 160

This is Part 5 of a recurring series on basic point and shoot consumer cameras, the details of which can be found here.

To be offered something for the cost of shipping is a tough thing to turn down, particularly when one has the tricky habit of adopting point and shoot cameras that few people want.  On a recent post of mine about my "Point and Shoot Pity Party," a kind reader offered to send me a few examples of point and shoot cameras languishing in his possession for the cost of shipping.  I got only a general idea of what was coming my way but thought the endeavor would certainly be fun.  Among the treasures in the box was the Pentax IQ Zoom 160, a late model mega-zoom P&S that was among the top tier among traditional point and shoots of its era.  I quickly took to this camera, and spoiled it on a Spring outing with some fresh Ektar film to see just what it might be able to do.  

Front View (open)

Top View (extended) - talk about overcompensating!

Through the decently sized viewfinder.  The bracket marks actually compress as you zoom out to assist in focusing. If you focus on a close object, the top of the viewfinder screen will grey out to assist with parallax correction.   

Name: Pentax IQ Zoom 160
Format: 35mm
Type: Autofocus Point and Shoot 
Year: 1999
Features: Fill Flash, Flash Off, Night Portrait, Bulb with and without flash, Self Timer, Remote Trigger, Multiple Exposure, Spot AF and Forced Infinity Focus, Backlit top LCD, Panorama Mask, Parallax Mask in VF, Red Eye Reduction Mode.
Lens: 35-160mm, f/4.5-12.0 (11 elements in 7 groups).
Battery: 1 CR-123 cell.
Manual: http://www.derrybryson.com/manuals/Pentax/35%20mm%20Point%20and%20Shoot/IQZoom160.pdf


Fun with Film: Cross Processed Ektachrome Elite 100

What two things will make me cross process slide film?  Well...
  • Slide film that is expired and that I worry won't process accurately, and
  • A mixed set of C-41 compatible chemistry from which I've gotten my desired rolls of color negative film developed. 
In these instances, the cost of running a roll of slide film through and processing it in the existing chemistry is really only a matter of one's time, and doesn't involve a financial outlay, so it's like the frosting on the cake.  

I had a 10 year old roll of Ektachrome Elite 100 that I put through my Ricoh 520M and dunked in the Unicolor chemistry.  Though it took a bit of trial and error to scan the results to a nice result, I managed to get some very vivid end products from this experimentation, that you can view below:

The rendition from this shot is reasonably close to life, aside from some pastel hues in the cooler end of the spectrum.


Ricoh Rarity: The 520M CDS Rangefinder

Rarity and value in the film camera collecting world can often have no seeming relationship.  One can head over to ebay and see a huge quantity of "rare" cameras for sale at the same time, and see people snapping them up at extreme prices.  And then there are those unknown models with truly small production runs that appear for sale only on rare occasion, and for a comparative song.  Witness the following:

Simply adorned but easily navigated, the Ricoh 520M CDS, occasionally seen as a model of the Sears 35RF, is an infrequently spotted example of mid-late 1960's rangefinder.

The camera model depicted here is Ricoh's 1966 vintage 520M CDS, and it is a surprisingly rare find on the film camera marketplace.  Head on over to eBay, Etsy, or Goodwill right now, and I can largely wager that you won't find one for sale. Heck, even searching the web for ANY mention of this camera model or its older sibling that lacks the "CDS" suffix will yield a pitifully modest bit of results.  As such this review for this rare camera that few seem to care much about is likely to sit about as the only formal review of this camera model on the web for some time, provided that late 1960's Japanese styling doesn't suddenly become the must have in late 2017, and the 520M CDS doesn't become the next big hipster thing.


I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: The Konica Aiborg

May the Fourth be with you!

The glittering black camera sat on the nearby shelf, awaiting its first use by me.  A generous loaner from Mike Eckman, it awaited a roll of film for an initial trial. And as I glanced at it, the tag line above from the classic space trilogy kept ringing in my head.

Where does one buy an Aiborg?  In the Darth Maul (sic) of course! 

Normally, the benevolent gift of a loaner camera is one met with great excitement, but my excitement was tempered by a large dose of skepticism.  Not only had I read Mike's excellent review in which he candidly shared his frustrations with this camera, but as I took my initial glances at the form factor of this camera, I could only seem to feel confusion regarding its operation.

In a film camera world where we often lament the degree of sameness evident across different models from different makers, the Aiborg does stand out as truly unique, but it is this uniqueness that helps make it feel intimidating.  Add in the "Death Star" styling and dizzying array of buttons, and the result is a "point and shoot" camera that feels like a far more complex and challenging machine than most of its genre.